Devastation from wildfires creates increased risk of flooding as heavy rain expected to hit Utah

UTAH COUNTY -- The National Guard, transportation officials and Utah County communities are bracing for potential flooding as heavy rain is expected to hit the state starting Tuesday afternoon.

Gov. Gary Herbert activated 200 National Guard personnel Monday night and heavy equipment is in place near the community of Elk Ridge, which along with Woodland Hills and Loafer Canyon is preparing for flooding.

About 200 soldiers from the 204th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade and 300th Military Intelligence Brigade were activated, according to the press release from Gov. Herbert's Office.

"Members of the National Guard will lend crucial support by building flood berms, placing Jersey barriers, and strategically placing sandbags to guard communities from potential flash flooding," Gov. Herbert stated. "Following these devastating wildfires, there is increased danger of flooding. With heavy rains headed toward Utah, flash flooding is a risk for these communities. In this instance, I would much rather be safe than sorry, and we are putting strong protections in place."

Payson City put out a call for volunteers Tuesday afternoon, saying they need help filling sandbags at Orchard Hills Ball Park, 700 South 800 West. The city says the machine they brought in to fill bags are not working and they need help. Volunteers are asked to bring a shovel and gloves.

Some Utah County residents were recently facing the possibility of their homes being destroyed by wildfire. Now the threat of flooding hangs heavy in the air.

"It keeps pretending like it's gonna rain hard on us and then it goes away," Mike Riley, an Elk Ridge resident, said while placing sandbags. "So we want to get something out here before Noah shows up.

John Gleason, a spokesman with the Utah Department of Transportation, said major construction projects across the state are on alert for potential flooding, but as of Tuesday morning no delays to projects have been announced.

Gleason said their primary concern is flooding on I-15 along the tech corridor in Lehi, and he said they have pumps in position to begin moving standing water off the road should that become necessary. They also have 500 sandbags ready in case they are needed.

Much of Utah is under a flash flood watch for Tuesday, with the heavier rain expected to begin Tuesday afternoon. The flash flood watch extends until late Tuesday night, click here for the most recent information on watches and warnings for your area. 

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Utah Emergency Management sent a series of tweets Tuesday morning with advice for those in the affected areas.